IEA (2023), SDG7: Data and Projections, IEA, Paris https://www.iea.org/reports/sdg7-data-and-projections, License: CC BY 4.0
Around 2.3 billion people lack access to clean cooking facilities, relying instead on the traditional use of solid biomass, kerosene, or coal as their primary cooking fuel. Household air pollution, mostly from cooking smoke, is linked to around 3.7 million premature deaths a year. In the past, progress has been very limited compared to electricity access.
The current energy crisis and the related inflationary environment in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic have exposed consumers to a dual threat of reduced income and higher prices of clean cooking fuel. Some countries have implemented policies to counter this trend, although millions, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, have reverted to traditional use of biomass. This led improvements to slow down between 2020 and 2022.
The IEA released this year the report A Vision for Clean cooking Access for All providing the latest data and trends on clean cooking as well as a feasible pathway to achieving universal access by 2030.
Share of population with access to clean cooking
Developing Asia is home to 55% of the global population without access, with around 1.2 billion people lacking clean cooking facilities. This figure is nine-times more than the number of people who lack access to electricity in this region. Progress has primarily driven by some countries in Asia thanks to programmes that provide liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cannisters to homes and clean air policies. Access rates in 2022 reached 68% in India and 87% in China.
In sub-Saharan Africa, 29 countries have access rates below 20% and the region saw a continued increase in the number of people without access to clean cooking since tracking started, reaching around 990 million in 2022.
The reliance of the vast majority of sub-Saharan Africans on gathering or purchasing wood, charcoal and other biomass for cooking dramatically damages health and impairs productivity, with women and children being the worst affected. The inefficient combustion of fuelwood and charcoal lead to high releases of methane and other GHGs and unsustainable harvesting also contributes to deforestation increasing further the climate impact. Achieving clean cooking access can save up to 1.5 Gt CO2eq by 2030, 900 Mt CO2eq of which only in sub-Saharan Africa.
Around 1.8 billion people remain without access to clean cooking in 2030 in the STEPS, which is far from reaching the universal access target in SDG 7.1.2.
In developing Asia, the projected access rate in 2030 is 82 percent, leaving 760 million people without access. Significant progress is projected for India, where the number of people without access is expected to fall from 450 million in 2022 to 285 million in 2030, indicating an access rate of 81%, up from the current rate of approximately 68%. China, today home to180 million people without access, is expected to achieve universal access to clean cooking by 2028.
In sub-Saharan Africa, the number of people gaining access to clean cooking barely exceeds population growth as switching from the traditional use of biomass to cleaner options faces both economic, logistical and cultural barriers. Around 980 million people still live without clean cooking facilities in 2030.
To achieve the objective of the Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario in line with SDG 7, nearly 300 million people need to gain access to clean cooking solutions each year. Significant increases in policies and investments will be required to support this achievement and different clean cooking technologies and fuels need to be deployed.
In the IEA’s Access for All scenario, showcased in the report A Vision for Clean Cooking Access for All, a diverse portfolio of technologies is deployed to reach full access to clean cooking by 2030 while at the same time reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and other climate forcing agents (e.g., black carbon). The share of people gaining access by technology in the Access for All scenario is as follows: 45% with LPG, 32% with improved biomass cook stoves (concentrated in rural areas), 12% with electricity and the remaining 10% with biogas or ethanol. Electric cooking is becoming a more attractive option as the costs of electric appliances decline, and as the current price crisis leads to efforts to reduce dependence on imported fuels. The annual investment needed in the Access for All to achieve full clean cooking access by 2030 is around USD 8 billion. However, current investment is inadequate at only 30% the required levels in average but reaching orders of magnitude lower in many countries especially in sub-Saharan Africa.